Ahead of our Battersea fair, we caught up with the lovely Candida, of the Candida Stevens Gallery, to get her top tips for first-time art buyers, discover a bit about the artists she represents and to find out which artworks she’s snapped up for herself!
Tell us a bit about the Candida Stevens Gallery
The gallery was founded when we took an exhibition called Good Figures from the Mall Galleries in London to the Jerwood Gridshell at the Weald and Downland in West Sussex. The reception was so amazing; delight at contemporary British artists being shown and lots of enthusiasm for us bringing high quality art of value to the area. I was motivated to set up a gallery on a permanent basis and there just happened to be the perfect space in an old warehouse in Chichester ready for conversion. We bravely just went for it. That was 3 years ago. Since then, we’ve been very busy curating an ambitious and exciting programme of exhibitions showing work entirely with British artists and on the whole Contemporary that has been very well received and supported.
Describe the kind of work we would find on your stand at the fairs?
The artists we bring to Battersea this time all have a link with nature. There is a reason for this. Once a year we commission a major show themed around an issue of our time, this year it was called GOOD NATURE and had an environmental focus. It’s always a democratic show working with big names like David Nash OBE RA and Eileen Cooper OBE RA right across the board to self-taught artists or those recently out of art school. All of the artists we have brought to Battersea for this fair were involved in GOOD NATURE. There is a cool calm to the work they have made.
Which of your artists coming to Battersea are the 'ones-to-watch’?
Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf is a talented, motivated and focused artist, who is fully committed to her practice. Her work is rooted in the tradition of portraiture, delivered with a glamorous contemporary treatment. She is now selling into Collections and holds positions of responsibility within the industry, for example she is a selector and Vice President of the SWA.
Giorgia Siriaco being a full time researcher for UCL just can’t make enough work, she sells so fast, which makes her worth getting hold of while her prices are still competitive.
Hen Coleman works part time as a tutor and master printer at the Royal Academy, making editions for some of the big names, but she doesn’t like to shout about it. This makes her own work, when she finds time to make it, reasonably scarce and very expert. Again with an increasing demand to do solo shows she is one to grab.
What advice would you give a fair visitor looking to start their collection?
Always go with what you love, don’t be overly inclined to ask your friends what they think, if it moves you and you love it, go for it. Many a time have I heard the story of regret, “I saw this piece I loved, and I didn’t get it and then it was gone.” Years later they still talk about it. If you outgrow a piece you can always sell it. If a piece moves you it will give you a little ‘zing’ every time you see it, very good for your wellbeing.
For me there are no hard or fast rules about starting with print making and working up to painting, just do what feels right, try not to overthink it. If you’re really struggling to feel your way, find a gallery or dealer whose style you like, and start to develop a relationship. As you get to know each other you will start to feel more confident and you will realise that you do know what you like.
What’s your most recent addition to your art collection and which artwork couldn’t you live without?
I recently got a portrait of my daughters painted by Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf, something I never thought I would have done, it’s so contemporary and captures a moment in time for us as a family, so super special.
I couldn’t live without my grid called Winter by Giorgia Siriaco. I bought this from Giorgia when we moved from London to Sussex. It’s how I met her. We have been working together ever since and while I watch her work develop, and I want it all, Winter retains a special place for me now just as much as it did when I bought it.
See the Candida Stevens Gallery collection for yourself by grabbing your tickets to the Battersea Autumn Collection now »
Header image: Provided by Candida Stevens Gallery.
Artwork image: Hen Coleman, The Temple, Pastel on paper, 152.5 x 102cm, £5,500.00, Candida Stevens Gallery.